Donald Trump dragging US 'back to the past' by promoting coal and ditching Paris climate accord, Vatican warns

'The real situation of the Earth today, of the planet, is described by scientists'

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The Independent US

Donald Trump is taking the US “back to the past” with his decision to withdraw the country from the Paris Agreement on climate change and efforts to revitalise the coal industry, a senior Vatican official has said.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, told Reuters that people should trust scientists to describe the world around them, comparing those who did not to flat-Earthers.

The Argentinian cleric suggested the quality of science teaching in the US was partly to blame for the refusal by many to accept established facts about climate change, saying the German public was “more educated in sciences and believe in science”.

The US President has claimed climate change is a hoax, appointed a string of deniers and sceptics to senior positions in his administration, and has started rolling back legislation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the natural world. He also argued that the Paris Agreement would damage the American economy.

But Bishop Sanchez Sorondo said energy was increasingly being produced by renewable energy, rather than fossil fuels, so Mr Trump’s decision to promote coal was a mistake.

“This is to go back to the past and not to see the future,” he said. The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was “a disaster for this country (the United States) and also for all the world”.

He added that Pope Francis feared any harm to the environment would be like a harmful “boomerang that will come back ... especially to poor people”.

Clearly thinking of climatologists, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo said it was important people listened to experts.

“The real situation of the Earth today, of the planet, is described by scientists,” he said. 

To illustrate that point, he said it was “difficult to say the Earth is not round” – as demonstrated by scientists, astronauts and explorers, among others – even though it seems flat when standing on the ground.